There has been significant academic debate over whether sex work performed by women is primarily an industrial activity or whether it is a manifestation of male sexual violence towards women. The debate is significant because if sex work is a form of violence against women, then the only appropriate legal and public policy solution is to prohibit it. If, on the other hand, sex work can be theorized as a valid form of waged labour, then its regulation or deregulation becomes an important point of legislative and political contention.
This article attempts to deconstruct the liberal feminist— sex work as work— discourse and the radical feminist—sex work as sexual violence—discourse. While acknowledging that these positions are neither unitary nor convenientlyrepresentative of all feminist discourse about sex work, the two often dominate feminist theory and pedagogy on the issue. The article demonstrates that the problem for much contemporary Euro-American feminist debate on prostitution is that it disallows the possibility of supporting the rights of those who work in prostitution as workers while remaining ‘critical of the social and political inequalities that underpin market relations in……